UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Rethinking Slavic Area Studies From The Opposite Edges of Eurasia

06 December 2021, 9:00 am–12:00 pm

Rethinking Slavic Area Studies From The Opposite Edges of Eurasia

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Maria Rubins

On behalf of the SSEES & SRC Seminar organisers, Prof Maria Rubins & Dr Daisuke Adachi, we would like to invite you to attend the first workshop of our cross-continental cooperation entitled ‘Rethinking Slavic Area Studies From The Opposite Edges of Eurasia’, taking place via Zoom on Monday 6 December at 9am (GMT).

Language and Literature in Area Studies: How to Understand Other Cultures through Literature
Zoran Milutinovic (SSEES)

What are we actually doing when we try to understand other cultures through their literatures? In Area Studies teaching as well as in research, most of us feel compelled – by habit, tradition and expectations, even by institutional requirements and curriculum designs – to follow the well-trodden path which sees the other culture reflected in its literature, even though we would oppose the very idea of reflection, deeming it theoretically indefensible. In this talk I will try to show how the concept of reflection survives in theory, as Frederic Jameson’s “national allegory” or Pascale Casanova’s “minor literature”. I will also argue that Hans-Georg Gadamer’s theory of language offers a more fruitful viewpoint: that literature, the language art, provides access to another culture by introducing us to tacit, background understandings stored in language.

A Northern Global South or a Global East? Post-Soviet Area
Studies in the Age of Neoliberalism and Great Power Competition
Tokohiko Uyama (SRC)


Now that thirty years have passed since the collapse of the
Soviet Union, some scholars deem the terms “post-socialist” and “post-
Soviet” obsolete and are seeking alternatives. Recently a Swiss
geographer, Martin Müller, has proposed a concept of the Global East and
provoked a wide discussion in the journal The Russian Sociological
Review (Социологическое обозрение) and elsewhere. While it is an
interesting idea to add a third category to the dichotomy of the Global
North and the Global South, we have to consider the place of the post-
Soviet space in the North-South divide in a more complex manner. On the
one hand, the neoliberalization of economy and knowledge production has
marginalized the post-Soviet space, which has now many features common
to the Global South. On the other hand, the competition among great
powers, including China, Russia, and India, has made the North-South
divide in world politics less meaningful, and has revealed complicated
relations between the West and plural Easts, as well as between non-
Western great powers and smaller countries. Drawing on results of the
SRC’s comparative studies of empires and regional powers, I argue that,
while the concept of the post-Soviet space is still viable, we have to
situate it on the North-South and East-West axes in a dynamic and
flexible way.